Archive for May, 2011

Silently Flying With Experts

May 31, 2011

When I was in my early twenties, before meeting my wife and while still living with my folks, I took flying lessons at the Pittsfield Airport.

Eventually I got in enough hours to have my shirt-tail clipped by my instructor. (solo flight)

Soon after that, I met Natalie and my priorities changed.

I wanted to save money for a down-payment on our first house.

During one of the lessons, with an instructor named Dan, he was teaching me how to practice a maneuver called a “stall.”

That was when you’d lift the nose of the plane up in the air high enough to cause it to lose lift, and then recover the aircraft seconds later so you don’t go into a tailspin.

I hated those lessons.

It got worse.

During one of the attempted “stalls” we lost more than just a few split seconds of altitude.

We went into a full 360 degree, out of control, straight down, watching the world spin like a Hithcock-trailer through the windshield, death spiral.

I was unable to speak.  (Hard to believe, right?)

Dan let it go on for about five seconds.

It seemed like five weeks.

All he said was:

I’ll take over

No argument.

Within seconds Dan had the plane flying straight again and he explained, even if I were alone, eventually the aircraft was designed to right itself.

I thought to myself.

That doesn’t matter Dan, I’ll never practice these maneuvers alone to find out.

At first I wasn’t going to make a Spiritual point today.

I wanted you to see that I actually did “shut my mouth”–once.

When God wants to get your attention, it may seem a bit drastic.

Yet His ways never mean He’s not there.

It just seems like we’re solo.

Those He loves always have His expert experience right beside them.

Allowing Him to take over is usually the best way to avoid panic.

Sometimes we just need to “shut up” and listen.

King David’s Memorial Day

May 30, 2011

On Memorial Day, it’s fitting to meditate on heroes.

The following story from 2 Samuel 23 is one of my all time favorites.

At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. “Far be it from me, LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.  

It’s upsetting when the media makes claim that American soldiers who die or are injured in battle, “never signed up for that.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The committment an American Serviceman makes, from day one, just like that of a Police Officer or Fire Fighter, is ultimate.

That’s not to say they’re hoping for calamity. 

It’s to point out that, unless they’re mercenaries, like Hessians fighting for the British, their bravery is spiritually guaranteed.

Today, as we commemorate those who served, let us symbolically pour out our souls in gratitude, as did King David.

A tiny nod of thanks, is all they need.

IS IT NOT THE BLOOD OF MEN WHO WENT AT THE RISK OF THEIR LIVES?

Signs of Good on the Horizon

May 29, 2011

Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

Before reading my list of special events, you first need to understand something.

One of my dad’s favorite sayings was this…

It’s darkest before the dawn

Ready?

1. Watch Battery Died.

2. Electric Oven Malfunctioned–Natalie Burned 3 Trays of Cookies

3. Unnamed Relative Scraped Up My New Car Parking it in Backyard

4. Trunk of New Car Would Not Close-Drove 4 Miles Home at 15- mph Fearing Groceries Would Spill Into Rode

5. Gas Grill Run for Refill–Forgot Propane Tank at Home.

6. Spent 8 Arduous Minutes Imagining Body Blown to Bits as Propane-Boy Tinkered with Screw Driver Around Giant Explosive Tanks

7. Watched Natalie Ruin New Cole Slaw Recipe with Too Much Celery Salt–Then Listened to Her Apologize For it 8 Times Through Dinner

8. Gas Grill Would Not Reach Temperature Above 250 Degrees–Steak Tips Were Good–But Took Hour to Cook

9. Plugged Up Drain in Kitchen Cleaning Out Refrigerator

10. Spent Hour Being Splashed By Sewage in Basement as Draino Experiment Failed to Dislodge Produce– Clean-Outs Needing to Be Opened For Hand Removal of Garbage?–Just 3.

Here’s how I got through the day.

Something great is going to happen to me, that’s why I’m being attacked.

The Devil knows when good is on the way, and he gets so upset he can tinker with our world.

God allows it, I wish I knew why.

But, if it can happen to Job, it can happen to you and me.

Never let a bad day get you down.

There’s a sunrise on the Horizon.

Winning an Election–It Has to Be You

May 28, 2011

I once was Gomer Pyle.

What I mean is that when I saw something “good” about to happen, one could count on me saying “golly shazam!”

At least in my own way.

The Bible teaches, let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no.”

In other words–don’t get too carried away.

I’m still learning.

There’s a baseball saying that has something to do with that too.

When your team is playing real well, you’re not really that good and when your team is playing poorly, you’re not really that bad.

I’ve decided that the only place one can gloat, without getting into trouble, is in the shower.

In the year 2,000, I finished sixth out of eight in a primary election for Councillor-at-Large in Pittsfield.

Only the top four in the final election won seats, but the top eight had a chance to continue.

My chances looked grim.

Here’s how I turned it around.

The telephone.

Wait, what can that do?

A friend of mine, and fellow “goomba” named Elie, gave me a phone list of all the voters from the last election.

I devised a strategy to call everyone on that list and ask them for a favor.

I never once said, “please vote for me.”

That would’ve been too confrontational.

I said, whether they answered the phone or their machine did, “This is Jim Massery, candidate for Councillor-at-Large….would you please keep me in mind?”

I was off the phone in twelve seconds.

Who could say no to that?

There’s no cost, no abrupt committment.

Yet this tactic allowed me to finish second in the final race and take a Seat.

The people remember how I made them feel, important enough to call personally and they remembered that they nodded their head “yes” to “keeping me in mind.”

When they got into the voter’s booth, they were true to their words, “they kept me in mind.”

As a salesman, you need two things, trust, then a nod yes.

No fanfare is needed.

No screams.

No shouts.

No “golly shazams.”

Just slow and steady.

By the way, taped phone calls with your voice–just don’t work.

It has to be you.

Speaking of tapes, I’m glad no one taped me in the shower that election night.

I was quite the Gomer.

Obama’s Marks On Israel–Is There a Grade Lower Than ‘F’?

May 27, 2011

In 1978 I started a Bible Study at U Mass for athletes.

It was part of a group called Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

My claim to fame was that the quarterback of the football team once came.

His name was Kevin.

I’m not sure how I got involved, but I do remember one meeting where I messed up badly.

We gathered at the Newman Center.

There were two rooms we could set aside.

I went into the wrong room, as they were side by side, and noticed that the blackboard was filled with at least 15 lines of literature and unique accents over various letters.

An older Priest at the Newman Center was teaching a class on literature.

Are you cringing yet?

I am.

Yep. 

I erased it and replaced it with a big refrigerator-worthy cross.

When the Priest came in, he needed a defibrillator, but they hadn’t been invented yet.

Needless to say, my offer to re-write the hours of work he put into prepping for his class was absolved in a rather abrupt manner.

I had a real hard time staying focused during my Bible study, especially with sweat pouring off my brow from embarrassment and guilt that I felt for ruining Father’s lesson.

The President did something similar.

He tried to erase borders in Israel.

The Israeli people had put their heart and soul into defending them and in one speech, Obama acted like they were nothing more than chalk on a blackboard.

How’s that working out for ya boss?

Check out the Jerusalem Post.

His ‘F’ became an ‘F-cubed.’

The first poll, which was taken before the first Netanyahu-Obama meeting in the White House – and Obama’s landmark speech in Cairo in June 2009 – found that 31% considered his presidency more pro-Israel, and 14% more pro-Palestinian.

The next poll, taken just one month later, found a huge shift, with the proportion calling the Obama administration more pro-Palestinian rising from 14% to 50%, and the proportion calling it more pro-Israel falling from 31% to only 6%.

Since it’s election season, we may as well try to turn these sad stories into an opportunity to help my friends.

Sarah, Mitt, Newt, Tim, are you reading this?

If you’re a Conservative politician you’d better think of a way to get the enemy on the defensive.

Here’s one that can’t fail.

They’re rolling out the big guns now with ads that imply Conservatives hate the elderly and women.

There’s no proof, just rhetoric.

The best defense is a good offense.

The chalk marks are on the President’s pants and there’s no brushing them off.

He hates Israel.

Please remind America who the enemies of Israel are.

They’re the same dear people who celebrated passenger jets slamming into the Pentagon and the Twin Towers.

Funny…they’re not even embarrassed about it.

Rotary Dialing for the Country Boy

May 26, 2011

I read yesterday that violent crime statistics in America are down 40%.

There’s no explanation for it, as the economy being down usually causes an upward spike.

Is it possible Americans are becoming more respectful of others?

Two things happened last night on American Idol that made me happy.

The first was that Lady Gaga fell off the stage.

It was deliberate and she probably landed in foam….but I can dream can’t I?

Is it my imagination, or is American Idol a bit obsessed with her?

Let’s face it.

She stinks in more ways than one.

Was that disrespectful?

My apologies LG, keep on singing…in the shower.

The second was that America picked a singer who’s actually a promising young role model that doesn’t make one cringe.

I’m so impressed that the winner, Scotty McCreery, never once stepped out of line during the show’s run.

At least that I could see.

His parents must be something special.

Kids like that are no accident and Scotty’s respectful “shout out” to the Lord after he won was no surprise to anyone.

Thank God they didn’t bleep him.

Parents, if you have a young daughter and she’s got a chance to go on a date with that young man, thank your lucky stars.

She will be safe that evening.

I can’t say the same for the boys, if they have a date with mini-Madonna.

Kudos also to America for allowing Lauren Alaina to take second place.

She was above average in the ethics department as well.

I know that these programs often celebrate the wrong things and the worst people.

But they’re a reflection of who we are as a society.

Maybe good things are happening, as America, in a way, thumbed their noses at Idol’s values.

At least folks in the South, where rotary dial telephones are still fairly common, overcame all odds and spun their way, with no re-dial, to Scotty’s country-boy victory.

Sometimes there’s no good explanation.

I like that.

Shout out!

Oprah’s Greatest Contribution–Mattie Stepanek

May 25, 2011

The Oprah Winfrey show divides my house in half.

The women love it, the men…well…let’s just say we take naps.

I’ve watched a few episodes.

In fact, were it not for Oprah, I might never have heard of a young Catholic with Muscular Dystrophy named Mattie Stepanek.

The first time I caught a glimpse of him, I was overwhelmed by the power of God’s love his life reflected.

Mattie died before his 14th birthday.

In the short years the world knew him, Mattie published poetry that made it to the New York Times “best seller” list five times–then twice more posthumously.

The best news of all about Mattie is a committee has been formed to consider his life for Sainthood by the Catholic Church.

Count me in.

Is there an 800 number I can dial to place my vote?

I know that many of us see Oprah as a “new age” prophet of relativity.

Somehow God’s power, through Mattie, overpowered that worldview.

There’s hope for the Queen of TV.

I can hardly wait until that day when Mattie does become canonized and I can say,  “those Oprah episodes were the best–I just don’t remember any others.”

zzzzz…

http://www.mattieonline.com/

“He’s Anti-Semitic!”

May 24, 2011

It seems to me the President hasn’t been to enough Bar Mitzvahs.

That’s how most of us Gentiles learn the proper way to behave around our Jewish friends and their families.

The first Bar Mitzvah I remember, I was around eleven years old. 

Before I’d gotten three feet into the building I was wearing a yarmulke and reading an English translation of the Torah.

Putting on a hat and role-playing works every time.

Reading the right literature helps too.

Cowboys and Indians and their head-gear…

Moses and the lost children…

You just sort of adapt to the right vernacular when you’ve been properly schooled.

Maybe the President’s handlers should be more concerned about his skills as a Jew than they are with him acting like an Irishman.

When anyone who lived through 1967 hears that year mentioned in a speech, unless they’re from New England and they swoon over a Triple Crown winner named Yastrzemski, they stand proud of the Israeli victory over the Arabs.

It was a miraculous six-day war that could not have been won without direct assistance from U.S. intelligence and hardware.

Now the President is trying to unwind what he said about returning to the ’67 borders with the Palestinians.

Good luck with that.

He may as well have attended that same Bar Mitzvah I did, wearing a Hitler costume saying– “I thought it was a Halloween party.”

Let’s face it people…this guy spent too many years as a Muslim, to ever get over his core hatred for Israel.

I know he “claims” to be a Christian now, but during an interview with soft-ball tossing George Stephanopoulos, he  talked about “my Muslim faith.”

If not for George correcting him by saying–“you mean your Christian faith,” that sentence never would’ve been redacted.

It’s hard to believe the President fooled so many Jewish voters the first time around.

I promise you they’re listening now and just like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld, they’re in their kitchens screaming at relatives saying–“He’s Anti-Semitic!”

Mr. President, thanks for reminding us about old borders.

I like the idea of going back to 1972’s, when Nixon won every state but Massachusetts.

The way things are going sir, here in Massachusetts, except for South Boston where Irishmen rule and the only minorities welcome are Poles named Yaz, we will always love you.

EJ Dionne’s Liberal Lesson–His Ignorance On Catholicism Revealed

May 23, 2011

In today’s Berkshire Eagle, May 23rd, we read a column by Liberal Elitist Mr. Dionne.

The main point seems to be that devout Catholics should be just as outraged by Speaker John Boehner addressing graduates at Catholic University as they were about President Obama when he spoke at Notre Dame’s.

He attacks Conservatives for trying to keep the American ship from sinking under the guise of protecting Social Justice Programs…aka…the Welfare State.

That Mr. Dionne, is textbook relative righteousness. 

Your lesson epitomizes what makes up nearly every argument a liberal brings to the table.

Attack Truth, the murder of unborn humans, by declaring that Pro Life Protesters are standing on a sidewalk trampling ant-hills.

Therefore they must be evil.

Fifteen years ago, one year after volunteers at a local school in the Berkshires held a successful Father Daughter Valentine Dance, the PTO voted to cancel it.

Why?

Because some girls didn’t have fathers, so their feelings might be hurt.

Forget the fact that 90% did.

Forget the fact the other 10% would have been invited by the 90% to share their daddies for an evening.

That’s the liberal way.

Democracy and Capitalism work too well for us to continue with it, let’s destroy freedom in the name of “free housing, free healthcare, free food, free everything,” all for those “less fortunate,” and if we don’t, no one can have anything.

The fact is, that’s textbook Socialism.

Guilt–then a power grab.

Mr. Dionne, you’re an expert on Progressive tactics, but you’re no expert on Catholic teaching.

Here’s an excerpt from Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Cententimus Annus, from 1991. 

By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.

We’re not just incense and altar boys.

Some of us can think.

So, Berkshire Eagle, and Mr. EJ Dionne, the next time you try to make a Catholic feel guilty about rescuing innocent babies make sure you get your facts straight.

Wait, what am I thinking, you’re liberals, so facts are like Play Doh, just mold them to fit your feelings…

Then leave them out to dry, so no one else can use them.

Way to go.

NASA’s Freedom of Speech–Evangelical Science

May 22, 2011

It’s a good thing NASA didn’t ask permission to arrange the Pope’s conversation with the Space Station Crew, as it orbited the Earth.

The Liberal’s trying to remove all mention of God from American culture, in the name of “Separation of Church and State,” would surely have blown a gasket.

I’ve been to the Air Force Academy. 

It’s a seminary with jets.

What’s most interesting to me is that it’s a Protestant seminary…an evangelical Bible School of sorts.

The Papal pep-talk is indicative of the Pontiff’s interest in learning more about hi-tech communication and science.

It also gives us a glimpse at a warming trend between Catholics and Non-Catholics that’s starting to flex its muscles in other areas too.

The Pro-Life movement is helping ofttimes anti-Catholic Protestants, dedicated to the unborn, see that the RC crowd is standing as strong as they are in opposition to infanticide that just won’t end.

In the late 1970’s early 80’s I attended a Bible College.  I never renounced Catholicism, but I did have plenty of questions about it.  Scott Hahn cleared things up for me in the end.

One of the arguments I often used to support the Faith of Rome was a common tool evangelicals used in leading people to Christ…it was called “Romans Road,” based on Paul’s comments in Romans 10:9.

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Being “saved” to a Bible College man or woman was the ultimate litmus test.

I used to say to my friends, when they questioned the authenticity of a Catholic’s faith…

That little old lady praying the Rosary…Do you think she’s ever confessed that Jesus is Lord? 

Do you think she believes in her heart God raised Jesus from the dead?

When they answered “yes” to both questions, the cold war melted a bit.

Congratulations to NASA on a job well done.

You’ve shown incredible courage and made possible one of the most historic conversations in modern history.

That Skype account the Pope opened up finally came in handy.